The Mexican striker missed the 2-0 defeat to Sporting Kansas City last week due to illness, but was cleared to travel to Lumen Field for the Galaxy’s key clash with Seattle.
Chicharito certainly made his presence felt, scoring an instinctive backheel to give the Galaxy a 1-0 lead inside 19 minutes – his 15th goal of the season. That was just a small part of an extremely busy night for the 33-year-old, who created two chances, won two aerial duels, and made three tackles.
It was this overall contribution and Chicharito’s ability to be a leader for the team that impressed Vanney.
“He’s a guy that can independently think on the field and read situations and recognize what’s dangerous in games when you need that,” the Galaxy head coach told reporters after Monday’s match.
“When things are adapting, and the other team is moving players into different areas of the field, he was super committed to not allowing midfielders to get on the ball and face forward between lines and the work that he was doing on the defensive side to condense space and crowd them up was enormous for us.
It was quite the roller coaster of a Friday night for LA Galaxy striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, who went through about every emotion possible over the course of his team’s wild 3-3 draw against Seattle Sounders FC at Dignity Health Sports Park.
It started with a bang, as the Mexican striker got the Galaxy on top just 10 minutes into the contest, converting the type of finish Chicharito has made a living on his entire career. It was a stellar individual effort that saw the forward expertly control a cross from Kevin Cabral to set himself up with a close-range shot against Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
After a spectacular golazo from teammate Victor Vazquez in the 42nd minute doubled the lead, the Galaxy looked primed to cruise to a much-needed three-point result on their home soil.
Things wouldn’t stay so rosy for the hosts, as the Sounders mounted a furious second-half comeback that saw Kelyn Rowe cut the lead in half in the 53rd minute before Raul Ruidiaz equalized just past the hour mark. With the match still tied 2-2, Hernandez was subbed from the contest with 20 minutes plus stoppage time still on the clock, and judging by his reaction, he was none too pleased with the exit.
Broadcast cameras captured Chicharito visibly perturbed as he walked off the field, which gave way to a lengthy discussion with head coach Greg Vanney that continued on the sidelines.
It seemed like Chicharito’s dejection would be compounded when the Sounders scored their third unanswered goal just three minutes after that substitution, courtesy of a rebound finish on the doorstep from Jordan Morris.
However, the Galaxy were given a lifeline in second-half stoppage time, when Seattle’s Xavier Arreaga was whistled for a handball in his own area following Video Review, allowing Dejan Joveljic, Chicharito’s substitute, to level the match from the spot and ensure the hosts would escape with a point.
That made for a happy Chicharito, whose reaction to said equalizer was also captured on the broadcast. There was palpable relief on his face, making for a cheerful ending to the emotional night.